No, on Tuesday I did not feel bad celebrating my birthday in the pool at Hilton Head while Detroit was digging out from 10 inches of snow … yet believe it or not, there is a little sadness in our hearts about missing what is hopefully the biggest snow of the year.  Settling for 50’s and some clouds, we are not anywhere close to the +75o and pure sun for which we yearn.  However, the refreshment of being able to relax, reflect, recreate, and read are exactly what we desired.

I am, by no means, anyone who wishes to ever be compared to Jesus, but I have learned many things from him.  Here is something I find quite valuable from very early in his ministry.  “That evening at sundown they brought to (Jesus) all who were sick or oppressed by demons.  And the whole city was gathered together at the door.  He healed many who were sick …  Rising very early (the next morning), while it was still dark, (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1.32-35) Gleaning 1:  the demands of life are many … and we all need time to relax, reflect, recreate, and read/learn (of course, prayer without ceasing is in this mix) if we are to be responsive and effective over the long haul.

We each probably do it in different ways.  Some fill vacations with tours and excursions.  Others prefer campgrounds and campfires.  My way is a combination of lots of good reading, being with my great woman, and (sometimes) mixing in close family/friends.  Warm temperatures, blue skies, and a pool are always welcome, though I also am blessed by occasionally spending a few cooler days a year totally alone.  It is important for each of us to find our own way … but I doubt that a steady diet of separate vacations for husband and wife should ever be the norm.

Gleaning 2:  The two days on the road to Hilton Head were very therapeutic for me.  I basically thought about nothing.  With all of the blessings that I recognize in being “mindful”, it is also healthy to be “mindless” at times … and, no, I never came close to falling asleep or any other driving hazard.  Rest for the mind is as important as rest for the body.

My days away generally start out similar to my days at home … getting up early (though a couple hours later, if you know what I mean) for morning devotions and a prayer-filled walk (running lately has not been in my psyche).  I truly believe that morning is a most blessed time … and that EVERYONE would be better off with this understanding (though mornings could certainly lose their specialness if they became crowded).  Gleaning 3:  I find a healthy mixture of scriptural mindfulness with abstract mindlessness calms the spirit and prepares mind and body for the day [A bonus gleaning here – if you are not reading February’s Portals of Prayer from CPH or The Lutheran Hour’s Lenten devotions, you are missing something great … let me know and I will send them to you.]

“What have your read so far?”  I am glad you asked!  “Restoring Civility” by Kent Hunter [let me know if you want my notes].  Three recent issues of “Concordia Journal” (from our seminary in St. Louis) and the most recent journal from our “other seminary.” [Here is a quote from CJ 45.1: “preaching repentance … involves calling out hearts for participating in the creation of false versions of the world, and for making themselves at home in distortions of the way the world really is.  To repent in this sense is to disavow and turn away from false worlds, trusting God to forgive us, renew us, and lead us to delight in his will and walk in his world to the glory of his name.”]  Yesterday I finished “Lead Me” by Matt Hammitt (lead singer of Sanctus Real)

Next up, as time allows: “A Case for Character (towards a Lutheran Virtue Ethics)” by Joel Biermann … “The Hard Stuff (Dope, Crime, the MC5 & My Life of Impossibilities)” by Wayne Kramer (cofounder of the MC5) … “Confessing the Gospel (A Lutheran Approach to Systematic Theology)”, Volume 1.  Though each intrigue me greatly, I am not sure if all/any would be on your “most anticipated” List.  Again, preferred readings, like vacations, vary greatly. February Gleaning 4: “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has not might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40.28-31)  May you, my friend, so be renewed.

February Gleanings